first-time novelist

What Do I Do When I Get Stuck In My Story

“Why Do I Get Stuck?”

When writers come to a dead stop there can be a tendency to panic. It’s important to remember that your idea of your story is never the whole story. When you try to figure it out, you tend to dig a...
The Internet: A Writer's Worst Distraction

The Internet: A Writer’s Worst Distraction

Sometimes the deeper we get into our story, the more we seek distraction. The internet will suck the life out of any writer. It will turn the most disciplined among us into bug-eyed addicts. Not only...
Dealing with Fear

First-Time Novelists: Dealing with Fear

Many authors share a similar fear: “What will people think?” It looks slightly different for each writer. What will my parents think when they find out I have these thoughts? What will my friends...
Plot vs Theme

Plot versus Theme

Plot versus Theme Any writer can experience that moment where you suddenly realize that your “idea” of the story isn’t going to get you to the end. Maybe you had a plan, but now the characters have...
Stay Out of the Result

Stay Out of the Result

For any writer, here’s a question to ask yourself: “Why do I want to write this?” A student told me recently that he was writing his first novel in order to sell it for a lot of money. Though I fully...
The Value of an Outline

The Value of an Outline

What’s the point of an outline? Whether consciously or not, every writer is in search of a process. A lot of writers want to dive right into their first drafts and start amassing pages. Though...
Write What You Know Can Be Misunderstood

“Write What You Know” Can Be Misunderstood

Every writer hears the old song: “Write what you know.” This can be misunderstood. The fact is, we don’t write what we know, but rather, we write the nature of our experience. A plumber doesn’t have...
Writing When You Have Nothing to Lose

Writing When You Have Nothing to Lose

Have you ever experienced great loss? Whether it was a parent, spouse, or friend, the experience pulls you sharply into the present moment. Nothing else matters, not the barking dog, the unpaid bills...
Discovering Your Process

Discovering Your Process

Finding Your Way As you write each day, you discover your own process. You begin to see there is no “right way” to create and that your objective is simply to let the story live. The first draft is a...
Trusting the Process

Trusting the Process

Be open to possibilities When I wrote my first novel Diamond Dogs, I had the idea that my hero, a high school senior, gets rid of the body. He accidentally kills a kid while driving late one night on...
Take Risks - Advice for First-Time Writers

Take Risks – Advice for First-Time Writers

“In order to share one’s true brilliance one initially has to risk looking like a fool.” – Criss Jami Writing your first story is sort of like, well . . . there’s a first time for...
Developing Your Writing Technique

Developing Your Writing Technique

  Technique develops over time. By reading and writing, we absorb a sense of story structure, cadence, and rhythm. We learn how to create and release tension. We deepen our relationship to our...
what happens next

What Happens Next?

The first step in creating a fully alive story is imagining the world. This simply means envisioning your characters in relation to each other and asking, “What happens next?” With each...
How Do I Begin?

How Do I Begin?

“How do I begin?” The process of story creation is mysterious. Where do our story ideas come from? From where do our characters emerge? At their core, our stories are born out of an...
Writing Without Distraction

Writing Without Distraction

You’ve begun working in earnest. The story is alive, your cylinders are firing. You’re getting up every morning and putting in the hours. But then, something happens. Life delivers a distraction, and...
Creativity is Your Birthright

Creativity is Your Birthright

Creativity is your birthright. We live in a culture that is invested in our believing otherwise. I frequently hear folks talk of talent as though it’s a finite commodity. People tend to think...
A Pencil for Christmas

A Pencil for Christmas

So many of my students and potential students come to me wanting to know how to get published and produced. They want their work to be read, to be seen. But what they really want is for themselves to...
Finishing Your Story - 5 Tips to Get You to the End

Finishing Your Story: 5 Tips to Get You to the End

For all you writers struggling somewhere in the middle of your manuscript, here are five tips to get you to the end. 1) Create a deadline for yourself. Think of a practical timeframe to complete your...

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